Advocacy groups and human rights organisations have written to the Manchester Mayor, Andy Burnham, and the Chief Constable of Greater Manchester, Stephen Watson, to ask them to investigate discriminatory police practices in the wake of the conviction of ten young Black men, known as the Manchester 10.
In a recent interview with the Voice, Burnham said that the case had prompted him to investigate how joint enterprise law, where people can be convicted of an offence by association, disproportionately discriminates against Black people. However, the letter’s signatories want the Mayor and Chief Constable to go further and review policies that create ‘gang narratives’ through the weaponisation of data and content that is fed into risk profiles, which are stored in harmful ‘gangs’ databases’ or used in criminal trials.
The Manchester 10 case highlighted not only the flawed practice of joint enterprise but also the use of music lyrics as evidence of criminal intent even when a crime hasn’t been committed. The well-known case saw ten young Black men convicted of conspiracy to murder and conspiracy to grievous bodily harm. Only two were involved in violence but all received custodial sentences. Messages they had shared on a Telegram group chat, which included drill lyrics, were used as evidence.
Open Rights Group policy manager Sophia Akram said:
“We know that some police forces are mining the social media accounts of young people, in order to identify them as gang members. This creation of ‘gang narratives’ based on musical expression, disproportionately impacts Black